Personal account - Josie Swindles

Mum knows best, says Breast Cancer Care's fundraising manager.

THE BEST ADVICE I EVER HAD

The best advice I ever had was from my mother, now aged 90 and still coming up with homespun wisdom. "Strivers achieve while dreamers believe: put your mind to it and you can achieve anything" is one piece of advice that has served me well. On the professional front, one of my first fundraising directors, Keith Holmes from Macmillan Cancer Relief, as it used to be called, told me always to look for the story behind the fundraising effort, because the reason for supporting a charity is the inspiration to keep the money coming in.

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Returning to work after being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.

Undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy made me realise that I wanted to put my skills to the test by raising as much money as I could for a charity specialising in breast cancer care. I wanted to 'do it for the girls'. Starting a regional fundraising team from scratch for Breast Cancer Care has been a big challenge, but also a compelling one, because I know how many more people need to know about the services we provide.

MY GREATEST HIT

When I was an inexperienced community fundraiser, my boss took me along to a fringe meeting at a political rally hosted by a large bank to learn about networking. He told me to circulate and make some friends. I introduced myself to a very distinguished gentleman who turned out to be the chairman of the host bank. I persuaded him to become chairman of a new £1m capital appeal, which was successfully completed in 12 months and went on to raise a further £1m through a direct mail campaign to the bank's customers.

MY WORST MOMENT

Using an aerobatic plane for a fundraising event. The registration form explained how people could experience barrel rolls, flying upside down and lots more stomach-churning moves. Only three people registered, and the event was cancelled three times because of bad weather.

MY TOP TIP

Give people value for money and it will leave them with a positive image of your cause that will definitely have an effect the next time you fundraise.

Supporters will be more eager to attend, sponsors will be willing to support and you'll be enthused by your success.

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